Late this spring, before our little market opens, we’ll pack up our backpacks, leave our little valley for the farms, fields and foods of Italy, England, France and Iceland. It’s a long trip, and one we’ve awaited for a very long time. It’s been years since we’ve been out of the country – our last visit to Europe landed us in Amsterdam, and that was before our little boy (who’s not so little any more) was born.
When late May arrives, we’ll find ourselves in Lucca – a town in the Tuscany region of Italy – just outside of Pisa, and not too far from Florence. It’s a region renowned for its history, culture, rolling hills and farm life. And you’re invited.
That is, I’ll be teaching a week-long culinary getaway in Lucca during the last week of May at the invitation of Jovial Foods. Its founder, Carla, is committed to reviving traditional, heirloom foods and flavors like einkorn (which I use frequently in my cooking - you can find it here). And in addition to cooking together, you’ll spend time with my family and other guests as we tour local farms, the farmers market and the rolling hills that surround the 18th century Tuscan villa where we’ll stay.
It is a very special trip.
Visiting Lucca: Farms, Markets, Foods and Culture
Lucca sits nestled in the undulating Tuscan hills, just a stone’s throw from Pisa. And I’m told that, in spring, it’s exceptional. So while we’ll stay in an 18th Century Villa with an expansive kitchen that’s fully stocked with fresh local foods and good Italian wines, there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the sites of the local area. Indeed, when I tell people we’re headed to Lucca for a culinary getaway, they look at me with wistful eyes and express that Lucca itself was the highlight of their trip – they talk abut the streets, the hills, the quiet romance. Everyone wants to go back, and I don’t want to miss it at all.
The first night of the getaway, everyone will settle in together for a traditional meal prepared by a local chef – a meal that features locally and regionally grown foods and typical Lucchese farm-fresh cooking. It’ll give us all time to relax, and to get to know one another. We’ll also visit local farms on the trips – where the einkorn is grown and produced, followed by more local foods and more good wine. And there’s time together at the local markets, and the workshops, of course.
But there’s plenty of free, unscheduled time to visit Florence, or Pisa or to just sit and relax at the solar-heated pool – something my little boy is looking forward to. You can check out the rooms at the villa and schedule here.
I’ll teach a series of traditional foods workshops on seasonal vegetables, properly prepared grains and nose-to-tail eating. You’ll help me prepare lunch, and we’ll all sit down to eat together before venturing off on our own little adventures. And, best of all, we’ll focus on fresh local foods – and you’ll have plenty of recipes to take home with you. And I’ll be there to answer any questions you might have. (Check out the full schedule.)
- Exploring Seasonal Vegetables: I’ll show you how to select and prepare seasonal produce, from your garden or from the market. We’ll focus on simple preparations, classic cooking, and traditional fermentation techniques. Not only will we use local fresh foods in our cooking, but you’ll be equipped to take those same techniques I teach and apply them to your cooking when you return home.
- Soaked, Soured and Sprouted: I’ll show you how to traditionally prepare grains to maximize nutrients through soaking, souring and sprouting. You’ll learn the difference betweens different types of flours, and their uses. We’ll also focus on the difference between ancient and modern grain varietals, focusing on traditional (but easy) n0-knead artisanal bread baking. And after the class we’ll settle in for a simple lunch of homemade wood-fired pizza, fresh seasonal vegetables and charcuterie.
- The Whole Animal: Lastly, I’ll show you how to use the whole animal in classic nose-to-tail style with emphasis placed on nutrient-dense animal foods like homemade liver pates and terrines, bone broths and more. You’ll learn simple techniques to make these wholesome foods easily in your kitchen, and we’ll enjoy a simple lunch afterwards.
Of course, the getaway isn’t all about cooking; rather, it’s about coming together – exploring new friendships – and finding rest and respite in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich regions in the world. And, together, we can look at it through the lens of real food – learning from one another as we explore a region steeped in history, tradition and care for the foods that nourish our body’s best. Just look at the experiences of the people who attended a similar getaway last year.
And, yes, the food will be spectacular.
How to Book
My family is looking forward to this getaway, and I’m really looking forward to visiting with readers who’ve come to know real food through Nourished Kitchen. I hope you’ll join me, and if you’re interested you can learn more about the trip here and book online.